Proud to Be an American

Tuesday, May 02 2006

Yesterday I was working in downtown Portland and was able to see the the 10,000-15,000 people rallying for immigrant rights. I’ve seen a couple of protests and rallies in Portland now, but none of them moved me so emotionally. I was proud to be an American, and proud to know that so many people were willing to express their love for America peacefully.

Personally, I’m extremely proud of those who marched. It wasn’t done without cost. At the wages a lot of the people make, missing a day of work has real impact on their lives. When I was growing up my dad ran a screen printing business that employed a lot of Mexican immigrants and I’ve known for most of my life how hard Mexican immigrants work just to sustain themselves and their families, and I’ve always been compassionate to the struggles they face. The right would have you think that the law is the law, and that if you’re in the country illegally, you’re a criminal. I smell bigotry in the guise of “upholding the law”. Imagine if we upheld the law for everyone who broke the speed limit – which is worse? Speeding mindlessly or supporting your family?

Regardless of the impact economically, good or bad, supporting decent people who want a better life than the one their country provides is something America should support and embrace. Criminalizing people who work hard, who are patriotic, who are willing to work hard so their children can have good health and education is a horrible and saddening idea.

I believe sincerely that a significant portion of those who support criminalizing undocumented immigrants are bigots, whether they realize it or not. There was a time when the most patriotic thing you could do for your country was to reject unreasonable laws – our country was born by rebelling against laws that quashed the rights of individuals. We fought so that we could work hard, provide our children with a better future, and to be free. Criminalizing immigrants who want just that is hypocrisy of the highest level.